70% of EU adult population now fully vaccinated

Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides welcomed this as "an important milestone" in efforts to end the pandemic

AP/OLMO CALVO  -   Hundreds of people queue to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at the Hospital Enfermera Isabel Zendal in Madrid, Spain, Tuesday, July 7, 2021

The European Union has achieved its goal of administering the full course of the COVID-19 vaccine to 70% of its adult population by the end of the summer, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Tuesday.

"Seventy percent of EU adults are fully vaccinated. I want to thank the many people who have made this great achievement possible. But we must go further. We need to vaccinate more Europeans. And we need to help the rest of the world to vaccinate. We will continue to support our partners," she wrote on Twitter.

Health commissioner Stella Kyriakides welcomed this as "an important milestone" in efforts to end the pandemic, but also insisted that we must continue to vaccinate, fight misinformation on the issue and follow public health measures.

PHOTO/REUTERS - A medical worker in a school lobby administers a dose of Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine to a student at Leibniz-Montessori High School.

"We cannot stop here. New variants make it necessary for us to go beyond 70% to be safe. We need to go one step further. We need to urgently address the worrying vaccination gap between our member states and be ready to deploy booster vaccines if the scientific evidence shows that this is the way forward," he said in a statement released by his cabinet.

The European Commission, which is in charge of centralising vaccine purchases for EU states, had earlier this year set a target of vaccinating 70 per cent of the adult population, some 255 million people, by the end of the summer.

PHOTO/REUTERS - European Union Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides

After a slow start to the campaign due to vaccine shortages, delivery delays and the temporary suspension of AstraZeneca's administration in some countries, Brussels succeeded in July in delivering the necessary doses to the states, which have also been accelerating and refining their vaccination strategies.

However, rates vary widely across the EU-27, with Ireland leading the way with 85.5% of its adult population fully vaccinated, followed by Denmark (83.5%) and Portugal (82.4%), while Bulgaria (20%), Romania (31.9%) and Latvia (45.5%) are at the bottom, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC). 

AFP/KENZO TRIBOUILLARD - President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen

Spain, among the most advanced, has already administered the full course of the vaccine to 76.7% of adults and 87.6% have at least one dose.
Although many states have not yet reached the 70% mark
, the EU is already considering whether a booster dose should be administered, although the European Medicines Agency (EMA) has not yet made a decision on whether it will be necessary.

If so, EU Single Market Commissioner Thierry Breton says there would be no shortage of vaccines as the EU has increased its manufacturing capacity and now produces "300 million doses a month".

In the second half of the year, the European Commission will deliver 950 million doses to member states, he explained in an interview with French public television last week.